Are you looking for alternatives?

windmills    photo by Monica’s Dad

It’s probably time to start thinking about alternatives – not power alternatives (although that’s a worthwhile discussion as well), I’m talking about alternative Social Media platforms other than Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Facebook is now over 400 Million users and over 80 Million of them are playing Farmville (which may be a sign of the apocalypse…I’m not sure) and – Twitter is generating 50 Million tweets per day.  It’s pretty clear that the big platforms are well into the mainstream and potentially too crowded to be useful to anyone trying to connect with more of a niche market than the entire world.

On top of that, history tells us that the world will keep changing and even if you missed the initial jump into these platforms a couple of years ago – you’ll have a chance to get in on the cutting edge of whatever’s next.

So what are some of the other choices of Social Media platforms out there?

If you’re looking for an extended list of platforms – services like www.Namechk.com (lists 145 different sites) or www.knowem.com (lists over 350 sites) will not only list out the sites, but can also tell you if your preferred username is available.

The experts over at the Social Media Examiner (great site for Social Media ideas) have a recent post out on the 5 Emerging Social Media Sites to watch in 2010.  Their list includes both Foursquare and Loopt which are location based Social Sites – clearly an up and coming trend.

They also list Google Buzz – which I’ve been underwhelmed with so far, but it is Google so you know they’ll have plenty of backing and time to continue innovating (or they’ll just buy out all their competitors!).

Another location based site that I’ve been hear a lot about is Gowalla – it’s a fun, easy social application that let’s your friends know where you are and what you’re doing.  It’s an easy way to interact with people, but I’m not sure how much staying power this kind of thing can have.  However if you have a retail establishment, it’s already a great way to get the word out on who and where you are by promoting it on these location based services.

In terms of more of a professional networking site, Biznik is the up and coming new kid on the block.  Biznik is targeting more business owners and professionals and not job hunters (as a way to differentiate from LinkedIn).  I like the approach and the tone of the site, but I haven’t had a chance to spend any time with it yet.

The best way to succeed with social media for business is to use a focused, consistent approach with a clear idea of what you want to get out of your efforts.  I don’t think any of the big platforms is going away anytime soon, but if you’d like to stand out and try something new, it may be worthwhile to check out one of these sites.

What new Social Media sites have you been hearing about?  Have you tried anything?  Share your thoughts below, I’d love to hear them.

Shawn Kinkade   Kansas City Business Coach

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